During the online International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity (ISAPA) in June 2021 te results of the SEDY2 project were presented.
The Erasmus+ Sport Empowers Disabled Youth 2 (SEDY 2) project addresses the topic of encouraging inclusion and equal opportunities in sport. Currently, different terminology about inclusion is being used in different countries, making it difficult to compare findings and to set unilineal goals and targets. In order to tackle the issues that are currently preventing youth with disabilities from participating in sports, the primary purpose of this study is to reach a consensus statement on what inclusive sport truly means. Literature shows that inclusion is a question about individual choice of a sporting activity across a continuum of segregated, integrated and inclusive approaches (Kiuppis, 2018) considered as The inclusion spectrum (Stevenson & Black, 2011). Most of the existing research is not based on the authentic wishes and feelings of children and young people with a disability themselves. Therefore, the main research question is ‘Inclusion in sport: what does it mean in practice?’
To ensure that the authentic views, wishes and feelings regarding inclusion in sport were attained, online focus groups interviews were conducted with children and young people with a disability, their parents and sport professionals in Finland, Lithuania, Portugal and The Netherlands. Data is coded and analysed with Maxqda through the method of thematic content analysis.
All four countries conducted a focus group with each stakeholder group: children with a disability themselves, their parents and sport professionals. In total 12 focus group interviews were conducted. Preliminary results show that inclusion is about individual needs and wishes and is associated with terms as feeling welcome, taking part, having a choice and equal opportunity. “…it is equal opportunities for all to participate and that, that you are part of like a group and, and that feeling of being part of a group and that you feel welcome.” Focus groups with professionals found that for them inclusion is not the same as inclusion policy. “I think we are talking about the same thing, and we feel the same way, but if we compare that to the inclusion policy or the sports covenant, maybe we are not always talking about the same thing.” All focus groups will be analysed and the results will be presented during the session.
Results have been discussed within the SEDY project group with sport organisations, Paralympic Committees and Universities of Applied Sciences to reach internal consensus. In order to tackle the issues that are currently preventing people with disabilities from participating in sports, there is need to reach a broad consensus statement on what inclusive sport truly means. Therefore the next is to discuss the results externally, to reach broad consensus. This can be taken as starting point for actual steps of improvement to include more children with disabilities in sport.